HE grew up in Boston…
and has risen through the ranks to become one of the most intriguing songwriters and performers in music. Jared Lee tells me about collaborating with other artists and what compelled his track, Professional Lovers; what comes next for him; whether he will come to the U.K. this year – Lee talks about producing and working with some of the world’s biggest D.J.s.
I ask Jared Lee what music he grew up around and what advice he would give to new artists; how his music has developed in the past few years; what it feels like hearing his music played on T.V. shows – the U.S. artist ends the song with a pretty cool song!
Hi, Jared. How are you? How has your week been?
Things are good. Thanks for asking! I live in L.A. and am spoiled with the best weather most of the time - so, no complaints.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Of course. So; my name is Jared Lee. I grew up in Boston and I am a recording artist and, also, I write and produce for many other artists. I love performing but I really enjoy collaborating with other people on their projects as well. I am told I have a decent personality – but, maybe that’s just people being nice…
What can you tell me about the song, Professional Lovers?
I really love the song and am excited for people to hear it. I think it’s a sexy, honest and visual record that describes a really intense physical relationship and unrivalled passion. I was fortunate to work on the song with Mick Schultz (Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson and Jeremih), Mati Moon and Dirk Pate. Right now; my goal is to (just) get people’s ears on it and introduce them to some of my new music.
Will this lead to more material? Might we expect an E.P. later this year?
Definitely. I have a chunk of songs done and also have some features coming out with some of the world’s best D.J.s that I am excited about. To be honest, I am not quite sure if we will keep rolling out singles or package an E.P. – but I am definitely looking forward to releasing more. I’m also going to release an acoustic version of Professional Lovers - just me and the piano.
You have produced and written for some great D.J.s. Do you notice a big difference working with them – as opposed writing/producing your own stuff?
I have really enjoyed getting the opportunity to work in the EDM/D.J. space, as it has challenged me, creatively, and opened me up to a world which I wasn’t really familiar with a few years ago. I have become such a fan of what they do and the art they create. Seeing some of their shows and the way audiences respond to them (particularly Coachella and last year’s EDC) literally blew my mind. In any collaboration, I think it’s important that each artist bring a unique energy and flavor to the record that can result in something fresh and original.
With my own stuff; I’m selfishly only thinking about how I will sing it, how I will perform it; does it communicate the message the right way etc.? With a D.J. collab; I, of course, have to take the other party into account and work with them to create something that, mutually, satisfies us creatively. There are times that I will just send them a song and they end up recreating the music; other times where they send me a track.
I write the lyrics and melodies to and, in the best cases, we get to be in the room together- that’s my fave.
How did you get into music? When did it all start for you?
I was always performing from a very young age in school groups. My sister and I sang a lot in the car with my parents and I was fortunate to be able to grasp melodies and harmonies at an early age (probably, largely because of that). I was a bad music student because I never listened to instruction. Ha. I did what I felt.
Not saying that’s the right way to approach it or not. It’s just what worked for me.
What sort of thing were you raised on? Did you listen to a lot of mainstream music – or was it more club/Dance-based music?
I was really into Boyz II Men, Brian Mcknight; James Taylor, Sting, Peabo Bryson and U2 - tried to sing along note-for-note to everything. My parents didn’t push their own musical tastes on me: they let me find the music that moved me.
How, do you think, your music has developed since, say, 2011’s Falling Through Holes? Do you think you are more confident?
I think any artist just wants to evolve and get better.
I love those songs and am proud of them - but I am in a different mindset. Life happens, relationships come and go; tragedy occurs, amazing things develop - and this all affects the art you create. I think, now, the sound of the music I will release leans a bit less Pop-Rock than my first E.P. and. Maybe a bit more Pop/R&B/Electronic – and, of course, there are Dance records coming out. So, I am excited to perform some of the new records and see where things go next.
Your music has been featured on T.V. shows – and reached a new audience. How important is hearing your music on the screen? How does it make you feel?
It’s an incredible feeling and I'm hoping for more of it. It makes you feel proud and in, I guess, a superficial way a bit validated. But, I just get turned on by the idea that a person far, far away can be watching something you created and it can contribute (hopefully positively) to the overall experience for them. I also really love the way music (my own or not) can affect or enhance a story on screen.
It can evoke very intense emotions and, so, I have so much respect for the supervisors that put this all together and find the right songs for the right films or shows.
Hollywood, California is where you are based. What is the music scene like there right now?
It’s a great place for music and I think, for Pop music, it’s probably the best place you could be in terms of the creative community. That being said; I think there is something here for every genre because it’s the entertainment capital of the world - and people want to be here to be close to that. Almost everyone here has musical needs, and so, the possibility of collaboration is quite high - which is exciting.
You just have to then find what works for you. There are many great live venues and the city is, of course, oozing with talent - so you never know what you may hear or who you may hear it from. The downtown scene has been expanding a lot as well and many new live music venues have been opening up.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
Right now, I'm mostly promoting the single - so it’s just a few songs here and there.
Mostly L.A. and N.Y. but, hopefully, that expands soon.
Can we see you in the U.K. this year at all?
I hope so! I love it there. My mom grew up in London, so I have been many times and love the culture and history. I recently did a quick performance in London but am looking forward to the possibility of some more time there. I think the U.K. breeds some of the best musical talent in the world without question.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I am really excited about Professional Lovers and some of the new songs that will come out as well some of the songs I have been writing for other artists. I am hoping for many more performances and, to honestly, just get better as an artist, performer; writer, producer and person. I’m willing to put in the work and hope I can music makes people feel good...or feel something.
I also want to learn guitar.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
One is playing a show in Hollywood where Brian Mcknight was eating dinner. I was so nervous but had to try to make an impression. I did a couple originals and a cover of Prince’s Purple Rain and he came up to me after - an incredible moment as he was someone I had listened to endlessly and admired musically growing up. He was very complimentary and, a few months later, I opened a holiday Xmas show for him on the Santa Monica Promenade. He even let me use his keyboard!
I had gone from listening to this guy in my room, trying to sing like him, to using his keyboard and opening his show. It was a cool moment.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Well. I think it’s similar to the advice I try to give myself every day: keep going, keep pushing; don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop if you believe in your art. I know that’s cliché, but it’s incredibly easy to be discouraged. Most people won’t respond to you. It’s very hard to get a large audience, but try each day to build it - even if it’s one or two people. Also, surround yourself with people you like to be around; that support you but also challenge you.
People that are great will make your life better; not only professionally but personally. Do the things that make you happy often. Take creative breaks.
IN THIS PHOTO: Dermot Kennedy
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I love some of the new discovery playlists that the digital platforms like Spotify and Apple have because I get to hear all these new songs I have never heard and end up loving. I have lists of new artists I dig. I get very taken by emotive voices and there is so much great talent out there to be heard. Check out the guy I mention at the bottom but there are, honestly, so many - and in different genres.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Luckily; I’m now in a climate where I can be outside all of the time comfortably. I ‘try’ to work out every day; go hiking or out to the beach (which is near me). I’m a total foodie, so I care a lot about eating - and often. I occasionally knock out a full Netflix series without stopping…just because we all need that sometimes (smiles).
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I heard this guy the other day I thought was great. Really expressive voice; Dermot Kennedy - Moments Passed
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